EDITORIAL | Let truth be told about Bird Island

An explosive new book places Port Elizabeth at the centre of what could turn out to be one of SA’s most depraved and disturbing instances of paedophilia – one that reached all the way to the highest tiers of the apartheid-era government.
The Lost Boys of Bird Island, written by former Port Elizabeth policeman Mark Minnie and ex-journalist Chris Steyn, hit the shelves on Sunday and has lifted the lid off incidents which, though they allegedly occurred more than 30 years ago, still have the power to make some in this city and beyond squirm.
The book names former cabinet ministers Magnus Malan and John Wiley, now both deceased, among those who allegedly took young boys to Bird Island off Port Elizabeth for the purposes of preying on them sexually.
A third minister is also implicated by the authors, though they do not name him based on legal advice.
The alleged kingpin of the operation is said to have been Dave Allen, a name well known to Port Elizabethans as he was once hailed a hero for salvaging the cannons off the Sacramento shipwreck at Schoenmakerskop in the 1970s.
Wiley and Allen both allegedly committed suicide within weeks of each other – Allen not long after being arrested for statutory rape and possession of child pornography – and took what they knew to the grave.
Our experience of apartheid has taught South Africans valuable lessons; not least that evil can be covered up, yes, but only for so long.
Eventually the truth will out and there is every hope that this will be the case here.
There are still people alive today, including in the city, who may have been directly or indirectly involved.
Then there are the boys taken on those “fishing trips”: Who knows what they endured and how it impacted their lives thereafter?
We can only hope that the few people who are still alive and know what really took place on Bird Island in the 1980s, will have the courage to come forward now.
With no statute of limitations on rape cases‚ the NPA has indicated it could well prosecute and that justice may yet be served.

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